Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
Search Quotes Search Sages Search Chapters

Chapter 65
Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

The wise don’t teach people to believe in words
But only to search for the true meaning.
When people are convinced by concepts,
Foolishness abounds.
When leaders are convinced by concepts,
Corruption, confusion, and conflict reign.
When instead they remain unconvinced and open,
Blessings and goodness spread.

Realizing the difference between understanding the words
And understanding the sense
Is a key to the Hidden Power of Goodness.
This power goes deep and reaches far.
It leads all things back to their own true nature.

Commentary

“Scepticism is as much the result of knowledge, as knowledge is of scepticism.”

Odysseus Ὀδυσσεύς via Homer
(Ulysses)
c. 1100 BCE
Trickster lineage hero and symbol
from Odyssey, Ὀδύσσεια

Themes: Karma

Comments: Click to comment

“I didn't lie! I just created fiction with my mouth!”

Homer
850 BCE - ?
Primogenitor of Western culture

Themes: Lies

Comments: Click to comment

“People with opinions just go around bothering one another.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
563 – 483 BCE
Awakened Truth

Comments: Click to comment

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.”

Confucius 孔丘
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
551 – 479 BCE
History's most influential "failure"

Comments: Click to comment

“Learn the unshaken heart of persuasive truth. Don’t believe status quo opinions in which there is no truth at all.”

Parmenides via Shan Dao
540 – 450 BCE
Grandfather of Western philosophy
from On Nature

Comments: Click to comment

“Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not, nor of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life.”

Protagoras
490 – 420 BCE
“The wisest man alive”—Socrates

Themes: God Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“He who believes needs no explanation.”

Euripides
480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

Themes: Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“Knowledge is not wisdom.”

Euripides
480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today

Comments: Click to comment

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

Socrates
469 – 399 BCE
One of the most powerful influences on Western Civilization

Comments: Click to comment

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

Socrates
469 – 399 BCE
One of the most powerful influences on Western Civilization

Comments: Click to comment

“Man is a being in search of meaning.”

Plato Πλάτων
428 – 348 BCE

Themes: Meaningfulness

Comments: Click to comment

“The more you know, the more you know you don't know.”

Aristotle Ἀριστοτέλης
382 – 322 BCE

Themes: Know Yourself

Comments: Click to comment

“One who believes all of a book would be better off without books.”

Mencius 孟子
(Mengzi)
372 – 289 BCE
from Book of Mencius 孟子

Comments: Click to comment

“When the knowledge of bows and arrows arose, the birds above were troubled… When the knowledge of argument and disputation multiplied, the people were confused.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Confusion

Comments: Click to comment

“Every reason has a corresponding reason against it.”

Pyrrho
360 – 270 BCE

Comments: Click to comment

“Nothing is certain, not even that.”

Arcesilaus Ἀρκεσίλαος
316 – 241 BCE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Dark Virtue are so deep they can’t be fathomed, so distant they can’t be reached, and always do the opposite of others. They give to others, while others think only of themselves.”

Heshang Gong 河上公
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)
202 – 157 BCE

Themes: Virtue

Comments: Click to comment

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος
55 – 135 CE
from Discourses of Epictetus, Ἐπικτήτου διατριβαί

Comments: Click to comment

“Merely to entertain doubts about saṃsāra will make it fall apart.”

Āryadeva འཕགས་པ་ལྷ།
(Kannadeva)
3rd C. CE
from Four Hundred Verses on the Yogic Deeds of Bodhisattvas

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Seek not to follow in the footsteps of men of old; seek what they sought.”

Jianzhi Sengcan 鑑智僧璨
(Jiànzhì Sēngcàn)
529 – 606 CE

Themes: Moral Freedom

Comments: Click to comment

“Since no one really knows anything about God, those who think they do are really just troublemakers.”

Rabia Basri رابعة العدوية القيسية‎‎
(Rābi‘a al-‘Adawīyya)
714 – 801 CE

Themes: God

Comments: Click to comment

“Even your belief in deception is a lie.”

Thaganapa
11th C. CE

Themes: Lies

Comments: Click to comment

“It is a fictional world distorted by the mind and the conviction of our society that it is the only reality is an enormous hurdle.”

Thaganapa
11th C. CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Man is wise only while in search of wisdom; when he imagines he has attained it, he is a fool.”

Solomon ibn Gabirol שלמה בן יהודה אבן גבירול via Ascher
(Avicebron)
1021 – 1070 CE
from Choice of Pearls

Themes: Wisdom Illusion

Comments: Click to comment

“Those who speak of the regularities underlying phenomena only apprehend their crude traces.”

Shen Kuo 沈括 via Shan Dao
(Mengxi)
1031 – 1095 CE
from Dream Pool Essays 梦溪笔谈

Comments: Click to comment

“the first key to wisdom is assiduous and frequent questioning… for by doubting we come to inquiry, and by inquiring we arrive at truth”

Peter Abelard Pierre Abélard
1079 – 1142 CE
from Dialogue Between a Philosopher, a Jew, and a Christian

Themes: Doubt Truth

Comments: Click to comment

“If the believer understood the meaning of the saying 'the color of the water is the color of the receptacle', he would admit the validity of all beliefs and he would recognize God in every form and every object of faith.”

Ibn' Arabi Ibn 'Arabi
1165 – 1240 CE
“the foremost spiritual leader in Muslim history”

Comments: Click to comment

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

Rumi مولانا جلال‌الدین محمد بلخی
(Rumi Mawlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī)
1207 – 12783 CE
from Masnavi مثنوي معنوي‎‎) "Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”

Comments: Click to comment

“I tell you the truth, any object you have in your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost Truth.”

Meister Eckhart
(Eckhart von Hochheim)
1260 – 1328 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Prejudice and partisanship obscure the critical faculty and preclude critical investigation… lies are accepted and transmitted”

Ibn Khaldun أبو زيد عبد الرحمن بن محمد بن خلدون الحضرمي
1332 – 1406 CE

Themes: Deception

Comments: Click to comment

“It is only certain that there is nothing certain.”

Montaigne
1533 – 1592 CE

Themes: Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“Usually those who have limited understanding think they know more, and those who have no brains, think they know everything.”

Giordano Bruno
1548 – 1600 CE

Themes: Opinion Illusion

Comments: Click to comment

“Begin with certainties and end in doubts; or begin with doubts and end in certainties.”

Francis Bacon
1561 – 1626 CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“to know and understand a multitude of things renders men cautious in passing judgment upon anything new.”

Galileo
1564 – 1642 CE

Themes: Curiosity

Comments: Click to comment

“Begin philosophy by doubting everything.”

Descartes René Descartes
1596 – 1650 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“All fools are fully convinced and everyone fully convinced is a fool.”

Balthasar Gracian via Joseph Jacobs
1601 – 1658 CE
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Comments: Click to comment

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet
1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“What is history? The lie that everyone agrees on…”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet
1694 – 1778 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

Thomas Jefferson
1743 – 1826 CE
from Notes on the State of Virginia

Themes: God Fear

Comments: Click to comment

“He who thinks and thinks for himself, will always have a claim to thanks… If it is right, it will serve as a guide to direct; if wrong, as a beacon to warn.”

Jeremy Bentham
1748 – 1832 CE
from Principles of Morals and Legislation

Comments: Click to comment

“Every true thinker for himself is so far like a monarch… He takes as little notice of authority as a monarch does of a command; nothing is valid unless he has himself authorized it.”

Arthur Schopenhauer
1788 – 1860 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears… Success comes from within, not from without.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882 CE

Themes: Success

Comments: Click to comment

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new… The head monkey in Paris puts on a traveler’s cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same.”

Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862 CE
Father of environmentalism and America's first yogi
from Walden or Life in the Woods

Comments: Click to comment

“He who knows most believes the least.”

Henry Thomas Buckle
1821 – 1862 CE
from History of Civilization

Comments: Click to comment

“It's not what you don't know that kills you, it's what you know for sure that ain't true.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The history of our race, and each individual’s experience, are sown thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself a fool.”

Anatole France
(Jacques Anatole Thibault)
1844 – 1924 CE

Themes: Wisdom Humility

Comments: Click to comment

“The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.”

Elbert Hubbard
1856 – 1915 CE

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions.”

W.B. (William Butler) Yeats
1865 – 1939 CE

Themes: Belief Opinion

Comments: Click to comment

“the demand for certainty is an intellectual vice”

Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from Unpopular Essays

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Winston Churchill
1874 – 1965 CE

Themes: Deception Lies

Comments: Click to comment

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Lies

Comments: Click to comment

“Those who are too lazy and comfortable to think for themselves and be their own judges obey the laws. Others sense their own laws within them.”

Hermann Hesse
1877 – 1962 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen.”

Martin Buber מרטין בובר‎‎
1878 – 1965 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.”

Will Rogers
1879 – 1935 CE

Themes: Lies Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Reason is the illusion of reality.”

Inayat Khan
1882 – 1927 CE

Themes: Reality

Comments: Click to comment

“I say one thing, you write another, and those who read you understand still something else!”

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883 – 1957 CE
from Last Temptation of Christ

Themes: Lies

Comments: Click to comment

“Free yourself from one passion to be dominated by another and nobler one. But is not that, too, a form of slavery? To sacrifice oneself to an idea, to a race, to God? Or does it mean that the higher the model, the longer the tether of our slavery?”

Nikos Kazantzakis
1883 – 1957 CE
from Zorba the Greek

Comments: Click to comment

“Be confident, not certain.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
1884 – 1962 CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Tolerance grows only when faith loses certainty; certainty is murderous.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant
1885 – 1981 CE

Themes: Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

T.S. Eliot
1888 – 1965 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The sovereignty of scriptures of all religions must come to an end if we want to have a united integrated modern India.”

B.R. Ambedkar
(Babasaheb)
1891 – 1956 CE

Themes: Religion

Comments: Click to comment

“Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.”

Reinhold Niebuhr
1892 – 1971 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“To suppose that people can be saved by studying and giving assent to formulae is like supposing that one can get to Timbuctoo by poring over a map of Africa.

Aldous Huxley
1894 – 1963 CE
from Perennial Philosophy

Comments: Click to comment

“Intelligence comes into being when the brain discovers its fallibility.”

Krishnamurti
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
1895 – 1986 CE
from Awakening of Intelligence

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“The minute you choose to do what you really want to do, it's a different kind of life.”

Buckminster Fuller
1895 – 1983 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The jewel has facets and it is possible that many religions are moderately true.”

James Hilton
1900 – 1954 CE
from Lost Horizon

Comments: Click to comment

“Of all, one must doubt.

Eric Fromm
1900 – 1980 CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Our conscious motivations, ideas, and beliefs are a blend of false information, biases, irrational passions, rationalizations, prejudices, in which morsels of truth swim around and give the reassurance albeit false, that the whole mixture is real and true.”

Eric Fromm
1900 – 1980 CE
from The Sane Society

Themes: Know Yourself

Comments: Click to comment

“He had taken seriously words which were without importance, and it made him very unhappy.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
1900 – 1944 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“the crucial difficulty with which we are confronted lies in the fact that the development of man’s intellectual capacities has far outstripped the development of his emotions. Man’s brain lives in the 20th century; the heart of most men lives still in the Stone Age.”

Eric Fromm
1900 – 1980 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“The secret of Soto Zen is just two words: not always so”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Impermanence

Comments: Click to comment

“The story begins only when the book closes.”

Marshall McLuhan
1911 – 1980 CE

Themes: Books

Comments: Click to comment

“Where faith is weak, there is an abundance of beliefs.”

Reb Zalman
1924 – 2014 CE
from Paradigm Shift

Themes: Doubt Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“Only don’t know!”

Seungsahn 숭산행원대선사
(Soen Sa Nim)
1927 – 2004 CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“I was never aware of any other option but to question everything.”

Noam Chomsky
1928 CE –

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“This is a mystical statement about government–and in our minds those two realms are worlds apart. I cannot make the leap between them. I can only ponder it.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

Themes: Government

Comments: Click to comment

“I don't believe anything, but I have many suspicions.”

Robert Anton Wilson
1932 – 2007 CE

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Opinions and beliefs can be helpful... as long as we don't believe them”

Shan Dao 山道
1933 CE –
from Tao Te Ching — The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words

Comments: Click to comment

“The more we believe the words, the less we understand the sense”

Shan Dao 山道
1933 CE –

Comments: Click to comment

“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”

Wendell Berry
1934 CE –

Comments: Click to comment

“The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.”

Pema Chödrön
(Deirdre Blomfield-Brown)
1936 CE –
First American Vajrayana nun

Comments: Click to comment

“Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.”

George Carlin
1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: Belief

Comments: Click to comment

“What we have to deal with is the kind of psychological materialism in our heads. We are allowing ourselves to be fed ideas and concepts from outside in a way that never lets us really be free. It is inward materialism that we have to deal with first.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from The New Age

Comments: Click to comment

“The more I see, the less I know for sure.”

John Lennon
1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Wisdom

Comments: Click to comment

“Seeing that nothing is solid or permanent, you begin to make yourself at home in the unknown.”

Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche ཛི་གར་ཀོང་སྤྲུལ།
1964 CE –

Themes: Impermanence

Comments: Click to comment

“History is not, after all, what really happened (no one can know; it’s gone), but only what we believe happened.”

David Mitchell
1969 CE –
from Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Themes: History

Comments: Click to comment

“Belief grows ever ‘truer.’ The actual past is brittle, ever-dimming… The present presses the virtual past into its own service, to lend credence to its mythologies.”

David Mitchell
1969 CE –

Comments: Click to comment

 

Comments (1)

Please log in or create an account to comment.

  1. Shan Dao
    Our phrase, “The Hidden Power of Goodness” is translated by Red Pine as “Dark Virtue,” by Le Guin as “Mysterious power,” by Wu as “Mystical Virtue,” by Cleary as “Hidden Virtue,” by Carus as “Spiritual, profound virtue.”